Clean and Green Punjab: Community engagement and tapping the untapped.


Byline: Mudassar Abbas

In low and middle-income countries (LMIC) like Pakistan, development of healthcare infrastructure is not the sole requirement for creating a healthy environment. Most of the neonatal deaths and mortality rate for children under-5 are because of diarrheal disease. Cholera and diarrhea claimed innumerable lives and poor hygiene continue to cause these fatal diseases among children in villages. The role that a hospital can play for prevention of such diseases is too little to mention, because problem is not with the cure but the challenge is to hamper its spread by establishing disease barriers. In pursuit of the same, what Pakistan needed to invest in is 'Behaviour Change', which was earlier neglected. Similarly, when governments plan and execute mega initiatives for provision of safe drinking water or improved sanitation system, it's not the filtration plant that saves the community from waterborne diseases but it's the pull-strategy created by Behaviour Change that convinces the community to come out of their homes and get filtered water. Children would continue to get infected if they are not told how important is to wash hands with soap. The problem doesn't lie with the availability of resources only but it's more about sensitizing the marginalized communities to use safe water or to use better sanitation mechanism. This untapped area of focus has finally been addressed with the Clean and Green Program of Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.

CM Buzdar has launched an initiative under Clean and Green Punjab program, which emphasizes on provision of potable water, waste water management, solid waste management, sanitation and hygiene, tree plantation and beautification of cities along with community participation. Apart from sensitizing the administrative wings, deputy commissioners, the program is aimed at a healthy competition of 319 local governments which shall work for creating a healthy environment within their respective jurisdictions across Punjab. Under Clean and Green Pakistan Program, 12 cities of Punjab and 7 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are participating in the competition. The Chief Minister Punjab not only tasked the Deputy Commissioners to pioneer the concept of this service delivery system, but also motivated them to be the role models for people's representatives who are going to be elected after upcoming local bodies election with the enforcement of Punjab Local Government Act 2019. With this legislation...

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